January marked the 9th anniversary for Fox News as the number one rated cable news network; but it came along with some sobering news about overall audience declines. Fox, which overtook CNN in January 2002, saw its overall audience drop 21 percent from January 2010, and an even larger 31 percent loss in the key A25-54 demographic from a year ago. Keep in mind that last January cable news saw a large boost due to the earthquake in Haiti, but Fox still had trouble hanging on to those viewers nevertheless.
On the other hand, MSNBC was the only network to show growth with total audience figures up 23 percent. Even more important was the 25 percent uptick in the A25-54 demo that advertisers crave. The now departed Keith Olbermann saw a 6 percent boost since January 2010, but I guess that doesn’t really matter now.
For Fox, the biggest worry could be the 40 percent drop in total audience for Glenn Beck, with a whopping 50 percent decline in the A25-54 demo. It was also just reported that Beck’s January 2011 ratings were the lowest since 2009 in the younger demo, though he still handily beats MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews. MSNBC’s momentum may be hard to continue since shuffling their lineup. In the meantime, CNN is benefiting from the changes and is now nipping at their heels, especially in the 8 p.m. slot.